What Is Malnutrition?

There are many reasons why our body can become replete of essential nutrition required for optimal health. Eating disorders, old age and poor health following illness and disease can all contribute to our body simply running on empty.

If we do not have the nutritional building blocks necessary for optimal health, then the various systems in our body will start to break down. Hormones, enzymes and neurotransmitters will not get made, which in turn puts other systems under greater pressure.

Here we describe just a few areas where malnutrition can be present. There are many more, so if you believe your body is malnourished, please contact us and we can discuss which of our services will best match your needs.

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Malnutrition in Eating Disorders

Eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa, are often characterized by restrictive food intake, excessive exercise, purging behaviour and laxative abuse.

Therefore, people struggling with chaotic eating receive an inadequate amount of nutrients, minerals and vitamins. As a result of this, the body lacks the essential nutrients needed for balanced body chemistry and optimal functioning. For example, low amounts of calcium in the blood and Vitamin D might cause osteoporosis, which makes the bones to become fragile.

Malnutrition in Obesity

Many people struggling with obesity often consume high caloric diets, such as junk foods, but low in the essential nutrients and vitamins that the body needs to use for building biological molecules, and release energy.

This deprivation from nutrients and fibre can cause constant feelings of hunger, since the body lacks the adequate levels of energy to function optimally and fulfil the bodily needs.

Thus, people that are obese or overweight might be also characterised by signs of malnutrition, which further leads to low mood and tiredness.

Malnutrition in Older Clients

Weight loss can occur as part of the aging process, but equally can be a sign of an underlying physical, mental or social problem. If unchecked this may result in malnutrition.

Some people find getting older difficult to cope with, suffering from depression and periods of apathy that may reduce their willingness to eat. In some cases, physical decline may reduce some older people’s ability to cook and prepare meals.

Other causes may be tooth loss and use of dentures, changes to the digestive system, or side effects from certain medications. Regardless of the causes, if the weight loss continues, it can have undesirable consequences such as muscle wasting, the deterioration of the immune system and a general decline in physical and emotional health. However, it is equally important that weight recovery should be undertaken carefully so as not to put undue stress on the body and organs.


  • Eating an abnormal or limited diet.
  • Difficulties chewing, swallowing or digesting food.
  • Recent illness or surgery, which may have a negative impact on ability to utilize food.
  • Unintentional weight loss.
  • An appearance of undernourishment: e.g. loose clothes, fragility, poor

Malnutrition and Cancer

There are several reasons why cancer treatments may cause patients to lose weight, but it’s very difficult to predict potential problems because although all drugs have side effects, not all patients are affected in the same way.

Side effects that may cause weight loss with cancer treatment:

Tiredness: the lack of energy may reduce patients desire to do anything, including prepare food. It may also result in anxiety and depression and negative feelings about oneself that may also have an impact on eating patterns.

Nausea: cancer drugs can, but don’t always, cause sickness. This can make it very difficult to eat or hold foods down. Making careful food choices, and eating and drinking frequently and in small quantities can help to combat this.

The digestive system: some cancer drugs may cause diarrhoea, constipation or loss of appetite. In the case of changes in bowel movements, it’s important to avoid dehydration and talk to a doctor about what steps to take. Loss of appetite may also occur because of the way certain drugs alter the way foods taste or because of soreness in the mouth.

Treatment for Malnutrition

We invite you to explore our services for Malnutrition